UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos – What’s at stake

UFC 239 is only a day away, and here I am, taking a good hard look at this stacked night of fights, thinking about how truly excited I am to see this violence packed card. But, there is one thing that keeps bothering me, and it’s the thought of what exactly does this main event do for the sport?

Now, I know that Jon Jones has a chance at another title defense, and Thiago Santos has the chance to shock the world, but let’s be honest, it appears to be a squash match. Not many people are giving Santos a chance, and based on the past, that analysis is rightfully deserved. But, what if this lopsided match up actually meant more to not only those involved, but the sport as a whole?

Hop in and buckle up, because I’m about to take you on a literary based ride of complete subjectivity.

Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos:

Jones has a chance to earn his 10th total title defense which would tie Anderson Silva for second of all time. But more importantly, he has a chance to do something that many champions aren’t doing in this super/money fight era we live in, and that’s legitimately clean out his division.

Everyone seems to want to be “champ champ” nowadays as soon as they win the belt, but to put it in perspective, I will list how many title defenses the aspiring double champs have had:

1) Daniel Cormier – 3

2) Amanda Nunes – 3

3) TJ Dillashaw – 3

4) BJ Penn – 1

5) Henry Cejudo – 1

6) Conor McGregor – 0

If Jones made that jump and fought for the heavyweight title, he would have only one less title defense than all those on this list combined.

Now honestly, the fact that he’s pitted up against Santos is already a sign that he has ran through the division. Santos, the former welterweight mind you, is coming off a few impressive wins, but let’s be real, he hasn’t even sniffed an opponent the level of Jones, and yet he is being thrust into this position simply because there is no one left. And no, even if Luke Rockhold outclasses Jan Blachowicz, he shouldn’t get a crack at the 205 title in my opinion.

The reason I say this match up has the potential to change the sport is complex, yet simple. I think this is Jones’ final fight at light heavyweight.

I know it’s a bold take and “205 is deep,” but let’s be serious here, is there anyone that can even hold a candle to “Bones” right now? I’m not so sure. So naturally, the next step for Jon is to move up to heavyweight, and fight the DC vs. Stipe winner, all this assuming DC doesn’t retire.

With all that being said, I also think Jones will relinquish the 205 belt if he wins the title after he makes the jump.

The fighter that many consider the greatest of all time seems to be on a warpath to leave that exact legacy, and he knows as well as all of us that it requires stepping outside of your natural division.

Assuming all this plays out exactly as I’ve laid it out, that leaves the question of what will happen at 205, and that’s obvious. The winner of this weekends bout between Rockhold and Blachowicz will battle it out against Anthony Smith for the vacant crown.

Just take a second, and imagine how different the MMA landscape, especially that in the UFC would be with the light heavyweight division wide open again.

You might be asking “What if Santos wins?” Well, I’m not giving him much of a chance, but I’ve been wrong before.

If Santos wins, the cloak of invincibility will be removed from Jones, and we will all once again have the belief that anything is possible in this violent, and unpredictable sport that we all love.

Prediction: Jones via 3rd Rd TKO

Passionate MMA writer and personality, host of the Tony Takedown Challenge.

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Passionate MMA writer and personality, host of the Tony Takedown Challenge.

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